South Carolina Stingrays coach Spencer Carbery couldn't complain about the team's work ethic in Game 2 Saturday night against the Wheeling Nailers.
Unfortunately a better effort wasn't enough as the end result remained the same as Game 1.
Wheeling forward Thomas Kuhnhakl scored 10:07 into overtime to lift the Nailers past the Stingrays, 3-2, Saturday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals before a crowd of 2, 058 at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Nailers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-0, as the series moves to WesBanko Arena in Wheeling W.Va., for Games 3, 4 and 5 if necessary.
After a lackluster performance in a 3-0 loss in Game 1 Friday night, the Stingrays looked like a completely different team in Game 2. The Stingrays were the team getting to the loose pucks and winning most of the individual battles against the Nailers.
"We were much better tonight, we did a lot of positive things, we generated some scoring chances and some momentum, but unfortunately we couldn't sustain it," Carbery said. "We were way better and way more committed tonight. We had our feet moving from the drop of the puck. But if you lose 3-0 or 3-2 in overtime, it's still a loss."
Carbery shuffled his roster in Game 2, starting rookie goalie Pheonix Copley and inserting defensemen Luka Vidmar and Derrick Pallis into the lineup. Forward Patrick Gaul and Joe Lavin missed the game with injuries.
"We felt like Copley gave us the best chance to win the game," Carbery said. "I thought he played well and made some big saves for us. I thought we were much better in front of him tonight."
The Stingrays came out flying in the first period, outshooting the Nailers, 17-9, and more than doubling Wheeling's scoring chances.
Luka Vidmar's goal with 4:57 left in the opening period capped long stretch of sustained pressure for the Stingrays.
"We came out a lot better in the first period than we did in Game 1," Carbery said. "We did the things you've got to do in the playoffs to score. We probably could have scored a couple of more times."
The Nailers had a strong second period, tying the game on Denver Manderson's power play goal three minutes.
But 13 seconds later, South Carolina's Jack Downing answered with a nasty wrist shot from a bad angle to give the Stingrays a 2-1 advantage.
Wheeling's Chaz Johnson tied the game midway through the third period on the Nailers' power play.
Wheeling got the game winner when Kuhnhackl wristed a shot over the shoulder of Copley.
"We gave him a little too much room and he made a great shot," Carbery said. "Sometimes that's what happens in overtime, someone makes a big play and that was a big shot."
Carbery said the Stingrays will have to regroup quickly for Game 3.
"It's a must-win for us," Carbery said. "We created some momentum and hopefully that can carry over for Game 3."
Wheeling 0 1 1 1-3
Stingrays 1 1 0 0-2
First Period: 1. SC, Vidmar 1 (Simpson, Gongalsky), 15:03. Penalties-Larson SC (slashing ), 1:13; Merth, W (slashing ), 6:24; McGrath W (elbowing, fighting - major), 9:00; Spinell, SC (fighting - major), 9:00; Merth, W (roughing), 17:59.
Second Period: 2. W, Manderson 1 (MacKay, Gill), 3:16 (PP). 3. SC, Downing 1 (Larson, Owens), 3:29.
Third Period: 4. W, Johnson 2 (Manderson, Ratchuk), 8:01 (PP). Penalties: Stevenson W (roughing), 5:56; Gongalsky SC (roughing), 5:56; Vidmar SC (slashing ), 6:56; Gongalsky SC (high-sticking), 17:56. Penalties: Vigier SC (holding), 3:12; Cianfrini W (fighting - major), 9:29; King SC (fighting - major), 9:29; served by Oakley SC (bench - too many men), 18:03.
Overtime: 5. W, Kuhnhackl 1 (Areshenko), 9:53. Penalties: Owens, SC (delay of game), 5:30.
Shots on Goal: Stingrays 17-6-8-7-37; Wheeling: 9-16-9-5-40. Penalties: Stingrays 9-24; Wheeling 6-18. Power Play: Stingrays: 0 for 3; Wheeling 2 for 6. Goalies: Stingrays - Pheonix Copley (0-1-0) 40 shots, 37 saves. Wheeling - Mike Condon (2-0-0) 37 shots, 35 saves. Att: 2,058.
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